View of the Victorian Mining Court in the central temporary annexe at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition held at the Exhibition Buildings, Carlton Gardens, between 1 October 1880 and 30 April 1881.

In addition to the main permanent Exhibition Building, two permanent annexes as well as a large, central wooden temporary annexe was constructed to house the courts of various countries, or to include larger items from countries already represented in the main Building.

Victoria had courts in the Great Hall of the main Exhibition Building, as well as in the central temporary annexes and in the Eastern Annexe, or Machinery Annexe. The display of mining exhibits, so central to Victoria's prosperity over the preceeding decades, was housed in the temporary annexe court. One of its most striking exhibits, seen in this photograph, was the rhombic dodecahedron representing the total bulk of gold raised in Victoria up until the 30 June 1880. It represented the 49,096,408 ounces, or 1503 tons of gold that had been extracted from Victorian goldfields, with a value of £196,393,632. A very similar engraved illustration of this view, also showing the rhombic dodecahedron, appeared in the Australasian Sketcher on 6 November 1880, p. 296.

Explaining the origins of the rhombic dodecahedron, the Argus wrote:

'A twelve-sided rhombic crystal has been chosen for the Victorian trophy. Each of the rhombs has sides 9ft. long, and the longest diameter of the figure is 22ft. It has been a complicated matter to so design the crystal that it shall represent by its bulk the total quantity of gold, in ounces, raised from the alluvial and quartz mines of this colony. The adoption of a rhombic dodecahedron was suggested by one of the offices of the Mining department, and two other gentlemen in the same office calculated the dimensions. The crystal will be mounted on a pedestal in the section devoted to mining in the Victorian court. Its vase size and unusual form will procure it abundant notice from visitors.'

This is one of sixty-one photographs in a presentation photograph album titled '1880 Melbourne International Exhibition' presented to Thomas B. Hill. Hill was the Assistant Secretary of the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition. This leather bound album was given to Hill, and all the Exhibition Commissioners, by the Exhibition Trustees. The photographer is believed to be Ludovico Hart, acting on a private commission from the Exhibition Trustees.

Description of Content

International Exhibition, Melbourne, 1880: interior view of the Exhibition Building showing the Victorian Mining Court, with a model representative of the total gold raised in Victoria to 30th June 1880.

Physical Description

Monochrome, gold-toned, silver gelatin photograph in a black leather bound album with decorative gold tooled border and gold tooled lettering in centre of front cover. Inside, 61 monochrome photographic plates showing exterior and interior views of the 1880 International Exhibition, held at the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne. Each photograph is mounted on heavy buff coloured card and has a simple black line border with a title beneath the photograph.


The Royal Exhibition Building has played an important role in Melbourne's social commercial and sporting life since it was built for the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880. The building's size and scale provide us with a physical example of 'boom-time' Melbourne in 1880. The international exhibitions of the late 1800s provided the fledgling Australian colonies with a forum in which to showcase their progress in commerce and industry to the world. This album is significant for its detailed visual record of the first international exhibition held in Melbourne. It has clear views of the colonial & international courts, as well as specific prominent exhibits. It also provides a contemporary view of the Exhibition Building interior and exterior in the year it was constructed.

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